This isn’t as straightforward as you would think. At high levels, many players are putting their hands in their gloves a little different than expected.
When you look at a glove it is obviously made to have a finger in every hole. But, a good percentage of players from college and beyond no longer do this. Players are starting to shift their fingers over one finger hole, putting their pinky and ring finger in the pinky hole of the glove. Some outfielders go as far as even putting their pinky, ring, and middle finger all in the pinky hole of their glove.
Before we go any further, you have to understand this: This is a player preference.
We do know that by shifting your fingers in your glove it makes the pocket a little bigger and it makes it easier to close. If you can get past the initial “uncomfortable” feeling of trying this, you just might never go back to a finger in every hole. This isn’t mandatory for infielders, as some infielders don’t want a bigger pocket because it will affect their transfers. This is usually the case for middle infielders, as their transfers need to be clean and quick most of the time. Corner infielders typically do not need fast transfers, so a good percentage of them shift their fingers over in their glove. We recommend all outfielders (with actual outfield gloves) shift their fingers over.
What does this mean for youth players? Coaches have a big problem with kids closing their gloves. They also have a big problem with kids complaining about how it hurts to catch a baseball. Like mentioned before, if you can get past the initial “I don’t want to because it is uncomfortable” feeling, many young players start to catch the ball a lot better. You also hear a lot less complaining about getting hit in the palm or index finger because the fingers are shifted over.
When we do our coaches clinics, this is a topic we try to briefly cover. Many coaches look at us astounded, and we tell them to Google a bunch of players and look how they put their hand in their glove. They ask of if they should use this technique in their softball league and we tell them absolutely. It is always funny when they first try it and tell us how much better it is.
The way you put your hand in your glove is your preference. We recommend you try/teach all the ways, as you might be shocked at how many players veer towards the less conventional finger in every hole route.